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Glassy Reflections

It's funny how certain techniques come into vogue, and this one is everywhere, from the Ford logo to the Land Rover logo to Philadelphia Brand Cream Cheese. It adds a glassy highlight and shadow the easy way.

Quick Tip: Kerning shortcuts

Increasing or decreasing the space between two letters is called “kerning,” and Photoshop lets you kern your type either numerically or by using a keyboard shortcut (which is much better because kerning should be done by eye). To visually kern tighter (remove space between two letters), click your cursor between the two letters that you want to kern (just click, don't highlight), then press Option-Left Arrow (PC: Alt-Left Arrow) to tighten. Press Option-Right Arrow (PC: Alt-Right Arrow) to add space between the two letters.

Step ONE.
Open a new document in RGB mode. Press “d” to set your Foreground color to black, and then Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace) to fill the Background with black. Create a new blank layer by clicking on the New Layer Icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. Set your Foreground to a dark red. Use the Elliptical Marquee tool to draw an oval-shaped selection. Fill your selection with red by pressing Option-Delete (PC: Alt-Backspace).

Step TWO.
Deselect by pressing Command-D (PC: Control-D). Next you're going to add a stroke around your red oval. Choose Stroke from the Add a Layer Style pop-up menu at the bottom of the Layers palette. When the Stroke dialog appears (shown here), enter 6 for Size, then click on the Color Swatch and choose a mustard yellow.

When you click OK, a yellow stroke is added around your red oval (as shown here).

Step FOUR.
To add some depth, choose Inner Shadow from the Add a Layer Style pop-up menu at the bottom of the Layers palette. Set the Distance to 10 and the Size to 9.

Quick Tip: Using the Radial Blur in Best mode means “Coffee Break” time

When using Zoom set to Best as the Blur Method for a Radial Blur on a low-resolution image (for example, 72-ppi), it'll take a minute or two, maybe less. However, if you run a Radial Zoom Blur on a high-res, 300-ppi image, you have time to grab a cup of coffee. In fact, depending on your computer, you may have time to run out for lunch. This is one sloooooooow filter. It's doing a lot of that “Mr. Science”-type math, so it takes forever (in computer terms, forever is anything more than two minutes. A lifetime is 30 minutes). This filter sometimes takes a lifetime. Sorry 'bout that.

Step FIVE.
When you click OK, a shadow is added to the top and left side of your oval, inside the red area (as shown here).

Step SIX.
Press Command-J (PC: Control-J) to duplicate your red oval layer. Then, double-click on the word Stroke below your original red oval layer. When the Stroke Layer Style dialog appears, click on the Color Swatch and change the stroke Color to white, and then increase the Size to 10.

Click OK to make a white stroke appear outside your yellow stroke (as shown here). Click on the red oval copy layer to make it active in the Layers palette. Press the letter “t” to get the Type tool, set your Foreground to a gold color, and create some type for the logo. I used the font Copperplate Gothic (from Adobe) for the word “Authentic” and the font Papyrus (also from Adobe) for the words “Hawaiian Surf Gear.”

Our logo is made up of a number of different layers, but you'll want to apply the effect to a flattened version of the logo. Here's a trick that will let you do that without actually flattening the document. Click on your top layer in the layer stack and create a New Layer above that. Hide the Background layer by clicking on the Eye icon in the first column beside it, hold Option (PC: Alt), click on the right-facing triangle at the top right of the Layers palette, and choose Merge Visible from the pop-down menu.

Quick Tip: Avoiding Type tool confusion

As you've learned by now, I like to switch tools by pressing their keyboard shortcut (rather than traveling all the way over to the Toolbox). It just saves so much time that it doesn't make sense to move your mouse all the way across the screen each time you need a different tool. However, when using Photoshop's Type tool, it can get confusing. That's because when you have the Type tool active and you press a key on your keyboard, Photoshop thinks you want to type (not switch tools), which makes perfect sense. That's why if you want to switch tools when you're using the Type tool, you need to click on the tool in the Toolbox, rather than typing the keyboard shortcut. You'll notice that in some of these tutorials, after you create your type, I ask you to click on the Move tool (rather than press the letter “v”) so that you can bring up commands like Free Transform. If I didn't and you had the Type tool chosen and pressed the letter “v,” it would just type a letter “v.” Makes sense now, eh? Eh? Oh come on, it makes sense.

Step NINE.
Now that you have a flattened version of your logo on its own separate layer, make the black Background visible again by clicking where the Eye icon used to be. Next, get the Elliptical Marquee tool and draw an oval selection like the one shown here that's slightly larger than your logo, but don't let the edges extend outside your image area.

Step TEN.
To soften the edges of your selection, go under the Select menu and choose Feather. When the Feather Selection dialog appears, enter 30 pixels (for high-res, 300-ppi photos, enter 60 instead), and click OK to soften the edges of your selection.

Now that your oval has soft edges, it needs to be rotated a bit. Go under the Select menu and choose Transform Selection. When the Transform Selection bounding box appears, move your cursor below the bounding box and click-and-drag to the right to rotate the oval selection counterclockwise (as shown). Click Return (PC: Enter) to lock in your transformation.

Quick Tip: Faster duplicating

To duplicate an entire image in Photoshop, you go under the Image menu and choose Duplicate (seems easy enough). But if you want to bypass the annoying dialog box that asks you to name the new document, just hold the Option key (PC: Alt key) when choosing Duplicate. This way, the duplicate will appear immediately rather than making you stop to dismiss the dialog.

You'll need to position the selection to where it covers the top-left corner of your logo (as shown). As long as you still have the Elliptical Marquee tool, you can reposition the oval without moving anything under the selected area. Just move your cursor within the oval, and click-and-drag it up and to the left (as shown).

To create the highlight for your glassy reflection, go under the Image menu, under Adjustments, and choose Levels. Drag the bottom-Left Output Levels slider to the right to add a highlight to your logo.

You can see the highlight appear as you drag the output slider. When it looks about right, click OK in the Levels dialog box. Don't deselect yet.

Quick Tip: Alternatives to the Type Mask tool

The Type Mask tool creates selections in the shape of type, rather than type itself (like the regular Type tool). If you prefer to use the regular Type tool to create a type-shaped selection, you can. In fact, I prefer it because you can really see what your type is going to look like.

Just create your type as usual, hold the Command key (PC: Control key), and click once on the Type layer's name in the Layers palette. This puts a selection around your type. Now you can drag your Type layer into the Trash icon at the bottom of the Layers palette. So what are you left with? That's right, a selection in the shape of your type—exactly like what the Type Mask tool would've done.

Click your Elliptical Marquee tool within the oval selection again, but this time drag it down to the bottom-right corner (as shown here).

Go under the Image menu, under Adjustments, and choose Levels again. This time, grab the bottom-right Output Levels slider and drag it to the left to darken the selected area, creating the shadowed part of the logo.

Click OK in the Levels dialog, then deselect by pressing Command-D (PC: Control-D) to see the final effect.

Quick Tip: A faster way to rasterize your Type layer

Tired of digging through the Layer menu to rasterize your type? Here's a shortcut: Go to the Layers palette, hold the Control key (PC: Right-click), and click-and-hold on your Type layer. A contextual pop-up menu will appear where you can choose Rasterize Layer. No more digging!

As I'm sure you've realized, the highlights and shadows you just added were applied right over your type (since we flattened the layer), but if you want your type to stand out more—it's easy! Just go to the Layers palette and drag this flattened layer beneath your Type layers (as shown here), which puts your type in front of your highlights and shadows.

Here's the final logo, with the type in front (which makes the type look cleaner) and the glassy reflection on the oval itself.

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